There has been a lot of debate recently about whether or not high capacity magazines should be banned. Many lawmakers claim that high capacity magazines are responsible for the disproportionately high level of victims when mass shootings take place.
The first problem that comes with banning these “High Capacity Magazines” is that there is no clear distinction between what a standard capacity and high capacity are. The arbitrary number ten has been put in place to fill this void, but makes little sense when you look at how firearms are made. Most modern handguns and rifles are designed to operate with a magazine holding somewhere between 15 and 30 rounds of ammunition. So a ten round limit would already place the majority of magazines on the market in the red zone. Let’s mention a few examples. A 9mm Glock 17 has a standard magazine of 17 rounds. The standard I’m using is in reference to what comes with the gun when it is purchased new in store. An AR-15 comes standard with one to three thirty round magazines. An AK variant rifle is the same. These are not high capacity magazines, they are standard capacity magazines that come with the firearm at the date of purchase.
Now let’s talk about why a ban will not work. Here is a quote directly from the study. “In 1997, a gunman in Orange, California, fired nearly 150 shots, wielding an AK-47 with a 30-round magazine three years after a federal law banned such assault weapons.” What is extremely sad about this quote is that it effectively admits that a magazine capacity ban will not work. The federal law being mentioned is the Assault Weapons ban of 1994. This federal law also set a maximum capacity of ten rounds on detachable magazines. So not only did the law fail to prevent a criminal from getting a banned firearm, it also failed to prevent him from getting a high capacity magazine. It truly is a shocker when criminals don’t follow the law.
A ban on magazine capacity id completely unrealistic. Almost entirely due to the fact that there is such a high level of proliferation throughout the country. There are at least 2 million AR-15’s alone in the US. That means there are even more magazines. Assuming that each rifle came with three or the owner bought an equal number that puts 6 million standard capacity magazines on the market alone. Then there are the lower and higher capacity magazines that would bring that number up even higher. It is just unfeasible to impose a limit in the number of rounds a magazine can hold when there are so many millions of higher capacity variants available.
Four months after the San Bernardino shooting, five gun control bills have been given initial approval by the California state senate. They are completely absurd measures that address almost nothing of importance. The proposed laws outlaw “Assault Rifles” with detachable magazines, “Clips” holding more than ten rounds of ammunition, and requiring registration of all firearms that have the infamous “Bullet Button”.
I’d like to address each of these points one at a time and shed some light on the absurdity of their existence. First, what defines an assault rifle? A quick google search of “Assault Rifle” gives the following definition. An assault rifle is “A rapid-fire, magazine-fed automatic rifle designed for infantry use”. In other words, the semi-automatic firearms that are cosmetically similar to those the military uses are NOT assault weapons. Nevertheless the term has been twisted to include any semi-automatic firearm that looks similar to the famous M-16 and AK-47 variant rifles. The way the law is currently written, any firearm that can accept a detachable magazine that can hold more than ten rounds is going to need to be registered with the state. It really is a clever political move since almost every firearm that accepts magazines would fall under this category. That would be just about every popular long gun that is sold in this country. By pretending to be targeting the rifles that they claim account for the most crime, the California state government is attempting to have universal registration of firearms through a backdoor method.
Now let’s talk about the “Clips” holding more than ten rounds. First of all, the person who wrote this section of the report on the proposed laws apparently has no experience with firearms. There is a huge functional difference between a clip and a magazine that anyone that owns a firearm would know. Anyway, the reason given for banning the use of “high capacity magazines” is because “Since 1980, 435 people have been killed in 50 mass shootings involving large-capacity magazines, some of which can hold 100 rounds of ammunition”. There are a lot of things wrong with this statement. First of all, this is a thirty-six year period. That means that a grand total of 12 people per year were killed with weapons using large capacity magazines. Another thing that is wrong with this statement is that it throws in the assumption that a 100 round magazine is the magazine of choice for a mass shooter. This is very frustrating because the statistic assumes that thirty round magazines are high capacity magazines. A completely wrong assumption. The firearms they are supposed to be used in were based around these thirty round magazines. So a thirty round magazine is effectively standard capacity. The fact that 100 round magazines exist makes no difference. I can’t think of a single case where a 100 round magazine was used in a shooting. As a gun owner I know that they are unreliable and bulky. It is one of those statements that tries to get people to think, oh no one needs a magazine that holds one hundred rounds. I support this bill. Meanwhile the true purpose is to ban twenty and thirty round magazines.
It is really frustrating to see lawmakers make the same mistakes over and over. All this law will do is inconvenience law abiding citizens.
When something is made illegal it is inevitable that a black market for that good will form. Cocaine, marijuana, heroin, meth, and many more illegal substances are not excessively difficult for someone to obtain if they put their mind to it. The US government learned this during prohibition and now is relearning it as the war on drugs comes to an end. Why then would anyone assume that banning guns would mean that no one could access them? Australia is learning this the hard way.
In 1994, Australia passed huge firearm legislation that banned huge numbers of semi-automatic firearms and created a buyback program that was intended to get them out of the hands of civilians. The buyback was not optional of course. If you refused to sell your firearm then you would be arrested and tried for possession of an illegal weapon. The intention of these laws was to reduce the crime rate within the country. Instead, the laws paved the way for an illegal gun trade to form in Australia that “Police admit they cannot eradicate…” as mentioned by the south Australian newspaper the Adelaide Advertiser. Many of the people that are being supplied these weapons are not even criminals. According to The Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia and Franz Csaszar—a professor at the University of Vienna—the buyback program saw a compliance level of around 19-20 percent. So people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens were made criminals by a law passed that was intended to target criminals.
Civilians now have a very hard time obtaining firearms in Australis, but the criminal market for these weapons has exploded. It is common for authorities to find that “Motorcycle gang members and convicted criminals barred from buying guns in South Australia have no difficulty obtaining illegal firearms – including fully automatic weapons”. Furthermore, The New Daily—an Australian newspaper—recently gained access to unpublished data on firearm offences which showed an increase in crime “Including a massive 83 per cent increase in firearms offences in NSW between 2005/06 and 2014/15, and an even bigger jump in Victoria over the same period”.
Australia is a generally peaceful country over all, so this data is not as frightening as it may seem. It is important to note however that Australia saw almost no decrease in its homicide rate after imposing these new laws. The average stayed at 1.8 per 100,000. Meanwhile, the US saw a massive decrease over the same time period from 9.3 per 100,000 in 1992 to 4.5 per 100,000 in 2014. The drop in the US homicide rate is largely due to falling violent crime and the end of the “War on Drugs” as it has been coined.
Based on this data it is difficult for me to understand why politicians support an Australian based firearm law when there is absolutely no evidence that It has any effect on homicide rates. Homicide rates in the US have plummeted over the last decade while Australia’s stay the same.
The dichotomy between the thinking of Gun rights activists, and gun control activists is extremely severe. I have little doubt that either group will ever see eye to eye. This is largely due to the avenue of thought each group takes. Those who support the right to bear arms argue that their right to defend themselves outweighs any perceived threat to other citizens. For those who want to limit the use of guns in America, they argue that a citizen’s right to feel safe in public is more important. I do acknowledge that there are many people that fall into the grey area in-between, but in the current political climate only the polar opposites are coming though.
First let’s look behind the thinking of a gun rights activist. To them the second amendment is a right they hold just as dearly as their right to free speech, or their right to religious freedom. Any law that is passed that limits the right to bear arms would be the equivalent to banning religions or limiting speech in their eyes. The best way I can explain it would be in relation to a quote form Edward Snowden. He stated that “Arguing that you don’t care about privacy because you have nothing to hide s no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say”. To those who vehemently defend their right to bear arms, apathy toward these laws would be just as absurd as what Snowden said about privacy. Then there is the argument that the laws are useless in the first place because criminals will not follow them. I’ve never heard of a criminal buying lower capacity magazines so their illegally possessed firearm could be state compliant, but I digress.
To those that support gun control the idea of safety over individual rights seems to be the goal overall. Many gun control groups like to state that “This is about the right to life of people who are killed by mass murderers”. So to someone who supports gun control, regulating firearms is something that needs to be done for the public good. To many of them the right to bear arms should not be a right. It should be a privilege. They would prefer a world where the government was able to protect every citizen. One where only police and soldiers had guns. A world where firearms are controlled and kept out of the hands of criminals. They want to make this a reality though legislation, and reform. Most of which ends up being halfhearted and ineffective.
So here lies the problem. Pro gunners live in a time that has long past, and anti-gunners live in a utopian dream that will never become a reality. Pro gunners want the ability to make their own decisions in terms of self defense, while anti-gunners want to create a system where the government is everywhere and always watching. One assumes that violence is bound to happen and cannot be prevented. The other assumes that people will be willing to allow a “Big Brother” to be watching over their daily life and take charge of their security.
There has been a lot of talk about what the second amendment really means. “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a Free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”. For many the second amendment means a guarantee that they have the right to arms. For others it does not.
The controversy surrounding the second amendment revolves around the two clauses of the sentence. Many argue that the second amendment only guarantees the right to bear arms to the militia. This is what has come to be known as the collective rights theory. It argues that citizens have no individual right to bear arms and since there is no individual right, government has the authority to regulate. Unites States v. Miller set this precedent after declaring that the National Firearms Act of 1934 was legal and did not infringe on individual rights.
The collective rights theory is completely contradictory to the intent of the framers. That is why District of Columbia v. Heller overturned the precedent set before. To understand why we should first look at what the definition of militia is. Militia is defined as “all able-bodied civilians eligible by law for military service” by the Merriam Webster dictionary. That would mean that every man and now woman who is of military age has the right to bear arms. Some people may point out that the second amendment mentions a “well-regulated” militia and not every able bodied man. The best response I can offer to this comes from the co-author of the second amendment George Mason. He states the following “I ask, Sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people. To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them”. So it is quite clear that the framers did intend for the second amendment to be an individual right. Besides, is there a single amendment in the bill of rights that does not guarantee an individual right? Why would the second amendment be the exception? As for the original ruling in United States v. Miller it must be noted that this occurred under the Presidency of FDR. FDR had already threatened to pack the court if they continued to shoot down his programs. So there was no way the court would go against the president on one of his largest reforms. There was also a serious issue with organized crime that made the law understandable. However, it is important to note that the National Firearms Act did not ban any firearms. It only required the firearm to be registered and a tax to be paid. The court ruled that this fell under interstate commerce and was within the right of the Federal Government.
There is a lot of bad information about the second amendment. No matter what your political ideology is, or what you personally believe, it is hard to argue with historical fact. It is irrelevant whether you think people need firearms or not. Until it is changed, the second amendment guarantees the right of a United States Citizen to purchase a firearm in defense of home and liberty.
In one of the most beautiful examples of hypocrisy, a former California State Senator has been convicted of weapons trafficking. Former Senator Leland Yee had been one of the leading voices in support of gun control in the state of California.
Yee’s story just reinforces many of the arguments made by gun rights activists. How would a law that restricts the type of firearms a citizen can buy going to effect a criminal in any way? The answer is it will not. Here we have a public official partnering with a known criminal—the colorful Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow—to buy “…weapons overseas and bringing them to the U.S.” All while championing the Brady Campaign for Gun Violence Prevention. Just two years before he was arrested he told CNN that “It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean that is just so crystal clear — there is no debate, no discussion.” At the same time he was bringing in real assault weapons from East Asia. How can the public ever have confidence that anything their legislators do in the supposed pursuit of public safety will mean anything when in fact the very people championing these laws are profiting from them? The only people who are effected by these crime prevention laws are the citizens of California.
Also, this is the perfect example of why trusting the government with your safety is a terrible idea. The largest argument pro-gun activists put forward is that they have the right to possess firearms because of the inherent right to defend themselves. How can citizens trust a government that would bar them from purchasing the most effective means of self-preservation, while selling these same banned weapons to criminal enterprises in the inner cities of the state? All the legislators accomplished was providing a monopoly on firepower. Now only criminals and the police have access to the most effective weapons. All behind the façade of a senator who “…styled himself as an outsider removed from the corruption that plagued San Francisco governments past.” Behind his outward appearance, Yee “…abused that trust” of the people of California. All for “…thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for political favors”. It is likely that more people were killed by the firearms he brought into the country illegally than by those purchased legally by citizens who wanted nothing more than to enjoy a challenging sport, or defend their families and homes.
Senator Yee is the perfect example of why gun control in America will never have the desired effect. Here we have California with some of the strictest gun laws in the country, yet it has the highest number of gun murders of any of the fifty states. The citizens are barred from buying many types of firearms that are supposedly too dangerous for them to own, but criminals can find public officials that are willing to turn a blind eye for campaign contributions and political favors.
Guns and Gun control have been a major topic for the Presidential candidates recently. With the focus on gun control some very ignorant statements have been made by both Democratic and Republican candidates.
Let’s start off with a tweet from Bernie Sanders. In his tweet from December 30th he says he will “Strengthen and better enforce the instant background check system…make ‘straw man’ purchases a federal crime; ban semi-automatic assault weapons which were designed strictly for killing human beings…”. Let’s go through these one by one. First off, background checks are required for all sales by Federal Firearms License dealers. It is a federal crime for them to sell without doing one. So unless he is implying that the laws are not being enforced then his statement has absolutely zero meaning. If he is referring to private sales he should probably be informed that almost every state requires private handgun sales to go an FFL meaning a background check will be conducted. It is also illegal to sell to someone who does not reside within your state unless you do it through an FFL. In other words, Background checks are almost universal except for private sales of long guns. Sanders next statement is laughable at how ill-informed it is. He promises to make “Straw man” purchases a federal crime. Meaning if you buy a firearm for someone who is not legally eligible to own one you will be committing a crime. A quick google search reveals that “An illegal firearm purchase (straw purchase) is a federal crime”. With penalties of up to “…ten years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000”. It really is inspiring to see how much effort the candidates put into research. Lastly, he mentions his support for an “Assault Weapons” ban. Claiming that these firearms “were designed strictly for killing human beings…”. As a proud owner of one of these “Assault Weapons” I can say that I did not buy my AR-15 for the sole purpose of killing human beings. As a matter of fact I bought it for hunting and target shooting. What is really meant by “Assault Weapon” is popular semi-automatic firearms that accept standard capacity magazines. There is also the minor fact that the use of any long gun in a crime is extremely rare.
Now for the Republicans. Jeb Bush posted a picture of an engraved handgun on twitter with the caption “America”. We’ll just leave out the fact that his “American” gun was made by FN Herstal, or Fabrique Nationale, a Belgian company. Anyway, let’s move on to Trump. “If you had more guns, you’d have more protection because the right people would have the guns”. First, I highly doubt that increasing the number of guns you have makes you safer. Besides having a long gun and a handgun, there is a point of diminishing returns. Not that there should be a limit on the number you can own, but arguing that owning more firearms makes you safer is ridiculous. Being an expert in one firearm would be much better. What makes someone the “Right person” anyway. That is incredibly vague.
Gun control could cost the Democratic Party the presidential election. It is such a divisive issue, and so unpopular that they are achieving the alienation of at least a third of the total voting population. That is why President Obama avoided the issue in his first election and why the party lost control of congress in 1994 after the assault weapons ban was passed. It could have been the deciding factor that cost Al Gore the presidency.
As the Washington times put it “the gun control issue is a loser” on the national level. A few years ago the Democratic Party “put out a paper some years ago warning candidates to not talk about gun control, calling it a loser issue” because of the long history of self-destructive support for the topic. If you want examples look at what happened in 1994 after the assault weapons ban was passed. The Democrats lost fifty-four seats in the house and eight in the senate. Both put Republicans at a majority and gave them control of congress. Even more recently look at the Vermont primary. Bernie Sanders most likely won that state because of his slightly more lax history on gun control. Vermont has a strong hunting and gun culture so it would make sense that they would hesitate when it comes to Hillary.
The main factor here is that many Americans do not trust the government. Either they do not trust it as an institution, or they do not trust it to protect them. The latter is the more common. So when given the choice between calling the police who “will show up when they can, but in most cases it’s too late to actually stop the attack” or having a firearm ready to protect their families with a 147-grain projectile traveling at 1126 feet per second the choice is easy. Assurances like “just call the police — it’s their job” are nothing more than “callous putdowns from those who never worry about their own safety”. It is no coincidence that the sale of firearms and the decrease in crime rate have been so closely linked. Though correlation is far from causation, the correlation at least proves that the more guns more crime narrative is completely false.
Many of the recent attempts at gun control have been based on misleading and false information. For example, the universal background check push sounds great. That is until you tell people taking the poll that every gun purchase from a licensed dealer requires a background check. Another popular one is closing the “Gun show loophole” in which anyone can buy a gun without a background check. Until you mention that “gun shows are governed by the same laws as all other gun sales, and that there is no exception for these community gatherings”. Another popular one is the classic “I don’t think the average person should be able to buy a full auto assault weapon”. That is until you tell them that the Hughes amendment all but banned the private sale of full auto firearms in this coutry.
“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice” Donny Miller
Quotations from Following source
In what could possibly be the largest decision regarding gun control since District of Columbia v. Heller, the Firearm Safety Act of Maryland has been overturned in the 4th Federal Appeals Court. The important thing about this case is not its decision on the law in question, but it precedent for the hearing of cases regarding the Second Amendment.
Previously, cases regarding the Second Amendment were subject to intermediate scrutiny. This contrasts with all other amendments in which any law potentially violating them was subject to strict scrutiny. The best way to explain this is that previously bans on firearms would be upheld in court if they were claimed to be in the interest of public safety. As judge Clarence put it “If a broad ban on firearms can be upheld based on conjecture that the public might feel safer (while being no safer at all), then the Second Amendment guarantees nothing”. If a religion was banned based off of public safety, the law would be shot down in an instant. A less extreme example could be Roe v. Wade in which the right to an abortion was guaranteed under the right to privacy. There were limitations. In Roe v. Wade the right to an abortion was guaranteed but the states still had the right to protect potential life. Similarly, the right to own a firearm is guaranteed while the state maintain the right to regulate unusual firearms. Unusual meaning machineguns, or explosive devices. So commonly owned and accessed firearms are protected under the second amendment. However in many cases the intermediate scrutiny allows for cases to be deemed constitutional.
The big deal about the 4th circuit court’s decision is that it the case must now be heard under strict scrutiny by the U.S. District Court. Many of the provisions of the FSA would not stand up to a strict scrutiny. This in turn could have national consequences if the case was to make it up to the Supreme Court. If that does happen, then states like California, New York, New Jersey, and Illinois would all see their current anti-gun laws overturned. By banning the access to commonly owned semi-automatic firearms these states have infringed on the right to bear arms.
Another important aspect of the case is that it includes magazine capacity under the right to bear arms. Banning magazines over 10 rounds could potentially be a breach of second amendment rights because they are commonly available. The court decided that “Strict scrutiny, then, is the appropriate level of scrutiny to apply to the ban of semi- automatic rifles and magazines holding more than 10 rounds”. So not only are firearms being included in this decision, but magazine capacity as well. The implications of this case are huge.
Only time will tell if this case comes to be anything more than a simple redefining of court policy, or if it completely redefines government intervention in citizen right to bear arms.
Recently President Obama and Candidate Hillary Clinton have been focusing on the topic of gun control. One thing they have done is praise the Australian model for gun control. What exactly would implementing such a model entail?
The Australian model introduced far-reaching bans on almost all types of pump action shotguns as well as semi-automatic shotguns, rifles, and handguns. Legal firearms were then categorized into seven groups. The most basic firearm license which is a class A permit allows non-semi-automatic rimfire rifles and non-pump action or semi-auto shotguns. In order to get a class A license an applicant must give a “Genuine Reason” to get approval. Class C firearms and beyond are almost exclusively reserved for government agencies and occupational shooters. Most of these firearms would be accessible to a law-abiding U.S. citizen. So it is true that firearm can be owned in Australia, but the licensing procedure is very stringent and restrictive. Another important thing about the Australian model is that holding a firearm for self-defense is not a legal or “Genuine Reason” to obtain a permit. Once the laws were passed, Australia instituted a huge firearm buyback program to retrieve now illegal firearms from citizens.
These programs would not work in the United States. First, how is the government going to buyback 310 million privately owned firearms in the United States? Besides the huge number of firearms, there would be major constitutional questions arising as to whether the firearms would be protected under various clauses of the constitution. Let’s assume a forced buyback of private property was perfectly legal. The US could then institute a buyback program like Australia, and like Australis this would leave anywhere from sixty to eighty percent of privately owned firearms still in circulation. Supposing the Federal Government somehow gets the funding to buy back and dispose of 124 million firearms, the remaining 186 million firearms would still be left in circulation. Now a market for illegal firearms has been created with the added advantage of having 186 million newly outlawed firearms on that market.
So what would the effects look like? According to the University of Melbourne “There is little evidence to suggest that [the Australian mandatory gun buyback program] had any significant effects on firearm homicides.” Any decrease in crime can be attributed to the previous trend of decreased violent crime starting fifteen years before the ban. So in conclusion, “The gun buy-back and restrictive legislative changes had no influence on firearm homicide in Australia”. The likelihood of this program working in the United States is even worse than in Australia. The forced confiscation—besides being unconstitutional—would be extremely coercive. It would inevitably lead to thousands of well-armed Federal agents going door to door and forcefully take firearms from millions of well-armed civilians. So gun violence which is at a historic low would actually skyrocket.
An Australian style gun ban in this country would never work. There are simply too many firearms in circulation. Also, many of the key components of the Australian law would never pass as constitutional in the United States. If anything consider the fact that research has failed to show statistical evidence that the law had any effect on violent crime in Australia.